Ottolenghi’s Ricotta and oregano meatballs
Some of the most popular recipes on the blog are meatballs, from a Spanish inspired recipe to creamy Swedish meatballs and local favourite, North African meatballs. I’m confident that Ottolenghi’s ricotta and oregano meatballs will soon be a regular at your dinner table, too.
In his latest cookbook, Simple, Ottolenghi assures us that these meatballs are super light and fluffy. If you’re a seasoned ‘meatballer’ you’ll know that sturdy flavourings are as important as the lightness of the meatball itself. Whenever I cook a new recipe, I scan the ingredient list first. Here, I needed only ricotta. Initially, I thought 250g ricotta might be a bit much but it’s this, that makes them defiantly light. For the breadcrumbs, I used a good old government loaf. It makes the softest crumbs.
A note on the sauce : I never intend to derail a recipe. In fact, I kept it together rather respectfully up until the sauce stage. I love cooking with wine and find it almost impossible not to add a splash, especially if the ingredients lean towards something Italian. You can leave the red wine out, but if you’re prone to do the same, a third of a cup should suffice. To deepen the tomatoey flavour, I also stir in some tomato paste. If you don’t have paste, just leave it out. No one will be any the wiser. To mimic the herby flavours in the tomato sauce, I pan-fry oregano sprigs and scatter them over the top. It’s so delicious. They’re like wafer-thin, herb crisps.
So what did the household think of the ricotta and oregano meatballs? A big thumbs up here. Everyone loved them and commented (unprompted), that they were soft and yes, super light. The flavour will take you to Little Italy, a place most of us would be more than happy to go.
Ottolenghi’s ricotta and oregano meatballs
- 30ml (2 tablespoons) olive oil
- 2 white onions, finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- several sprigs oregano, leaves roughly chopped
- 30ml (2 tablespoons) tomato paste
- 80ml (1/3 cup) red wine
- 400g tin chopped tomatoes
- 600ml chicken stock
- 500g free-range beef mince (lean)
- 100g fresh brown breadcrumbs (about 2 thick slices)
- 250g ricotta
- 60g parmesan, grated
- 1 egg plus 1 yolk, lightly whisked together
- several stems flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a pan and sauté the onion until softened, about 8-10 minutes. Remove half the onion and set aside for the meatballs.
- Add the garlic and oregano to the onions in the pan and cook for another minute or two, then add the tomato paste and stir through. Pour in the wine and reduce by half.
- Add the chopped tomatoes and half the stock. Season lightly with salt and pepper, cover partially and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
- For the meatballs, combine the beef, breadcrumbs, ricotta, parmesan and reserved onions in a mixing bowl. Season with 3/4 teaspoon salt and black pepper. Add the egg mixture and parsley and mix together by hand. Shape into evenly sized balls. You’ll get about 18 per batch.
- Heat the remaining oil in a non-stick pan. Brown the meatballs on both sides, turning gently with a spoon. Place the meatballs in the tomato sauce, add the remaining stock, cover and simmer until the sauce is thickened and the meat, cooked through, about 25-30 minutes.
- For the crispy oregano: Heat 20ml olive oil in a pan and fry 3-4 sprigs oregano until crisp. Scatter the oregano over the meatballs and drizzle the pan oils over, too.
More meatball recipes to pin to your must-make list:
Stuffed cabbage with freekeh meatballs
Barbecue meatballs with bacon gravy
Prosciutto Meatballs and spaghetti
16 Comments. Leave new
Leave a Reply
The Bibby’s Kitchen Cookbook
Find out all about my first cookbook by clicking here.
Purchase my new eBook “Beautiful Home Food – Recipes From Bibby’s Kitchen” here.
Hello, I’m Di
Welcome to my kitchen, a creative gathering place where meals are shared with family and friends, celebrating life and nurturing our connectivity.
Made your oxtail in red wine recipe for fathers day lunch on Sunday – it was an absolute hit! Plus made enough to freeze for a mid week supper- Bonus!
Wow! That must’ve been a huge pot. I love doubling up recipes like these. There’s nothing better than having a meal stashed away in the freezer.
Good heavens this looks amazing!
Thanks, Mari. Adding the ricotta makes the meatballs almost creamy. And then there’s also the parmesan. So delicious.
These meatballs look absolutely delicious. What kind of starch would be a good companion?
Thank you Hanlie. So tender and soft. Good old fashioned mashed potatoes are pure comfort. I’d add some finely chopped flat leaf parsley to the mash, extra butter and maybe a handful of grated parmesan cheese too. Any Italian flavours would work. Buttery tagliatelle will be perfect.
I came here to find out what to do with the ricotta because the original fails to mention it: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2013/jun/28/ricotta-recipes-yotam-ottolenghi
If I’m not mistaken! Thanks for clearing it up and congrats on your amazing pictures!
So glad you found the missing step here, Simon. They are rather marvellous, these meatballs.
hi any good ideas what to replace the ricotta with if we are dairy free
Hi Laura. Silky tofu could work or, for a softer creamier texture, a vegan ricotta made from almond or cashew milk is the next best thing. A tablespoon of nutritional yeast will add a lovely cheesy flavour too. Hope that helps.
These look delicious. I’m going to make them on Tuesday, my next day off. Your suggestion of tagliatelle sounds perfect as well. Thank you x
My pleasure Karen. I hope these tender meatballs will become a regular favourite at the dinner table. They’re also excellent on bruschetta, for casual weekend appetisers.
Does this lend itself to freezing. I’m looking ahead to Christmas and want to have some meals ready prepared for serving over a four day holiday
Hello Liz. Sorry for the late reply. Comment landed in spam folder. Yes, meatballs are excellent to freeze. I always make sure the sauce covers the meat. Once defrosted, just reheat gently.
I tried this with Beyond Beef (which benefits from a lot of added flavors), and this recipe was a hit. Planning to try Ottolenghi’s lamb meatballs next!
Glad you liked it. Such a versatile recipe, really.